a couple sit in a tub laughing

For Richer or For Poorer?

Back in the day traditional wedding vows highlighted the commitment of marriage in referring to staying with one’s spouse in both the good times and the bad. The vows spoke of this commitment in terms of staying together in sickness and in health and for richer and for poorer. Nothing was mentioned about regular mole checks. Pre-marital counseling touched on finances, future child-rearing, and developing hopes and dreams together, but nothing about looking for skin cancer and melanoma.

I can't see everything

Self-checks are a part of my regular routine along with seeing the dermatologist on a consistent basis. But, let’s face it, it is not always possible to see everything on one’s own body unless you have some superhero abilities. This is where the trained eye of your significant other can help you IF you let them and IF they want to help out.

A recent online article addressed this issue with some very interesting results. According to the article, past melanoma patients are more at risk for future melanomas and their prognoses are worse with melanomas that “difficult to assess on skin self-examination, such as the scalp, back, the dorsal side of the thighs, and genitals.” In other words, it’s hard to find lurking melanomas when you can’t see them.

Surprising findings

The research study evaluated the attitudes of melanoma survivors with respect to getting assistance with self-examination from their significant others. It specifically sought to understand the patient’s attitudes and level of comfortability with this role. The findings may surprise you. They did me. Additionally, male patients were significantly more comfortable with having their partners assist them with self-examination compared with females.

The study went on to indicate that if the melanoma survivor felt that the extra set of eyes would help them, then they were more likely to seek out their partner’s evaluation and be comfortable with it. This highlights the importance of educating others regarding self-examinations and overall good skin care practices. But, how can you broach the subject? It probably is not a usual dinner conversation.

Just be honest

I think that an open and honest chat is always advisable. Checking for destructive moles may not be the most romantic thing to do, but as an act of love, it could save a life. Open dialogue about one’s feelings and sensitivities could certainly help bring people together on this. What surprises me most about the aforementioned study is that, in my experience, guys are less likely to ask for help (think asking directions). But at the core of early melanoma detection is asking for and getting help. We are better together than we are alone.

Now, I want to be sensitive to those who don’t have the assistance of a loved one. Do your best in your self-examinations and use technology to help you. I am not kidding when I say that “selfie sticks” can be used for more than just taking indulgent vacation pics. Map and track your skin using your smartphone and skin cancer apps. And as usual, I recommend finding a good dermatologist and see him or her regularly.

My wish for you is that you will find happiness with the emphasis on health and not sickness.

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